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Changes in Older Adults

The number of older adults grows in the developed countries due to improving medical care and reducing women’s mortality rate during parturition. Naturally, humans are inevitably changing over their lives. These changes are commonly characterized by deterioration of the physical health and cognitive function, as well as particular roles that social, spiritual, work, and family factors play in late adulthood.

Growing older inescapably entails physical changes. Physical aging occurs slowly but constantly over the life-span and has significant effects on appearance and functioning in the older age (Sigelman, 2012, p. 161). The results of changing in appearance are wrinkled and dry skin, thin and gray hair, and weight loss due to reducing muscle mass. Aging also includes impaired vision because of structural changes that occur in the eye. The amount of light passed through the eye decreases, and the person’s ability to adapt to the lighting changes declines. Other physical change associated with late adulthood is slowing down of movement. The sense of balance that depends on vision, vestibular abilities, and muscle strength declines with aging. Thus, the loss of balance is a major contributor to one of the most feared aspects of growing older – falls (Payne, 2012, p. 476). The older adults walk slowly without intensive arm movement, and their performance of motor actions are less coordinated.

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As for cognitive changes in late adulthood, they are represented by reduction of mental abilities. Structural changes in the brain provoke reducing memory, declines in attention, and slowing reaction. Deficit in memory and attention affects the older adults’ ability to act independently in daily life. A slowdown in the reaction time is manifested in the fact that the older people take longer to decide when they need to respond, especially when the situation contains ambiguous information (Kail, 2014, p. 393).

Older adults cope with daily problems by using their spirituality and religion. Older adults report that turning problems to God helps them differentiate things they can and cannot change, as well as focus on the belief that God will provide the best outcome suitable for each situation (Kail, 2014, p. 417). Moreover, work is necessary in late adulthood. After retirement, the old people attempt to keep active as it maintains their physical and mental health.

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The close attachments to other people are the common feature of old adults. They enjoy social relationships as in such way they do not feel lonely. It is important for old people to receive social support. Having at least one confidant has beneficial effects on life satisfaction and emotional state (Sigelman, 2012, p. 480). Family relationships play an essential role in late adulthood too. Old people become grandparents and they care about their grandchildren. Grandparents who do get “called to duty” sometimes make a real contribution to their grandchildren’s development (Sigelman, 2012, p. 501). A difficult transition for old adults is widowhood. As widowed people feel loneliness and financial problems, some of them remarry.

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Clinical depression is the mood disorder, while sadness is a state of mood. Older people often face both of them. Sadness is the feeling that may be caused by different problems in late adulthood, but it does not last for a long period of time, whereas depression is a serious illness that needs to be treated. Depression is characterized by such symptoms as fatigue, lack of energy, sleeping disturbances, and losing interest in pleasurable entertainment. Moreover, depression may be hard to detect as its symptoms are often the part of the aging process or a physical disease.

Old adults experience physical and cognitive changes. Social, spiritual, work, and family factors have a significant impact on the late adulthood as they help to cope with problems and reduce feeling of loneliness. Sadness and depression are widespread among old people.

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